Around the NFC South

February, 12, 2012
2/12/12
10:05
AM ET
Let's take a look at the Sunday headlines from around the NFC South.

It’s almost a certainty the Atlanta Falcons will be looking for a left tackle. Sam Baker has not worked out and could be released and Will Svitek might be better off as a backup. The expectations are that Marcus McNeil will be released by San Diego and he could be a good fit for the Falcons if healthy. McNeil has had some neck problems, but is one of the best in the game when he is healthy. The Falcons need to make serious upgrades to their pass blocking and it would be hard for the team get an elite left tackle in the draft because they are without a first-round pick.

The Panthers will host the defending Super Bowl champions for the second straight season. They hosted Green Bay last season and the New York Giants are scheduled to play at Bank of America Stadium in 2012.

The Bucs looked at several candidates, including some they weren’t allowed to interview, before hiring Mike Sullivan as the offensive coordinator. As it turns out, they might have landed the perfect fit. As Stephen Holder points out, there’s a feeling inside One Buccaneer Place that getting quarterback Josh Freeman back on track is critical for the franchise. Working with Eli Manning the last two seasons, Sullivan has shown he can get positive results from a quarterback.

UCLA coach Jim Mora has been recruiting heavily in the Georgia area. He seems proud to remind recruits that he was the Atlanta coach the last time the Falcons won a playoff game. He might want to leave out the fact the Falcons were an incredibly unstable franchise throughout his tenure and much of that had to do with Mora’s up-and-down demeanor.

Saints defensive tackle Tom Johnson feels confident enough about his future with the Saints that he went ahead and recently bought a house in New Orleans. Probably a good move. After struggling with an early-season injury, Johnson worked his way into the rotation and seemed to score points with the coaching staff. Sedrick Ellis is a lock to stay in that rotation, but veterans Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin are not. Both are potential free agents and there is no guarantee the Saints want them back.

Tampa Bay veteran cornerback Ronde Barber, who is a free agent and also could choose to retire, said he hasn’t made any decision about what he wants to do in 2012.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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